Native Village 

Youth and Education News

June 9, 2004,  Issue 135 Volume 1

"We need to save those Elders who cannot speak for themselves -- the trees."  
--Haida Gwaii, Traditional Circle of Elders 

From June 19-22, Japan will host a gathering of all nations and all faiths to celebrate World Peace and Prayer Day.  Chief Arvol Looking Horse, spiritual leader of the Lakota people and the 19th generation keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Calf Pipe, will attend.

More about World Peace and Prayer Day:
Message from Chief Arvol Looking Horse: 2004 World Peace and Prayer Day

Navajo elders give 150,000 hours to nation
Flagstaff, AZ: Almost two hundred Navajo foster grandparents came from every corner of the Navajo Nation to be recognized for volunteering with children.  “You truly are the fabric of our nation,” said guest speaker U.S. Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz. Among the comments:
“When I go into a cafeteria, they are all shouting, Grandma! Grandma!  It is a good feeling...Everybody then turns around and looks. They’re like baby lambs crying out.”  Laura Desh, 64;
Today’s kids are losing their culture and language. When we first meet them (kids) we tell them who they are and where they come from. Some are slow and some don’t want to listen. They are all different.” Irene Franklin;
“Last year, a state official recognized that some children even had improved their reading skills with the help of the grandparents.” Irene Eldridge, program director;
“They have better relationship with children, then off-reservation people. They are the knowledge of the people and are an untapped resource." Carole Mandino, Northern Arizona University.
Carole Mandino has spent 20 years working with senior volunteers throughout northern Arizona. She believes the high volunteerism within the Navajo Nation is due to the culture.  “There have been so many generations of volunteers on Navajo that it has become part of the culture," Mandino said.  The Navajo Foster Grandparents program is run by the Navajo Area Agency on Aging.  It's volunteer rate is 3-4 times higher than other Arizona projects.  To become a foster grandparent, an applicant must be 60 years of age, meet  certain income eligibility requirements, love children, and be willing to volunteer 20 hours a week.

   Nipmucs preserve history
Massachusetts: The Nipmuc Nation is pushing ahead with plans to restore historic tribal sites. One current project is to reopen a house on its Hassanamisco reservation that, until last winter, was considered to hold the regional record for continuous occupation by a Native family. The tribe is also raising funds to preserve several centuries-old dugout canoes, or mishoons, discovered at the bottom of an icy lake. Further down the road, it hopes to open a museum and cultural center in Worcester, Mass. the state’s second largest city.  "We all have 10 different projects," said Rae Gould, the Tribal Historic Preservation officer.

Indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation
Sixty-four indigenous tribes are living in voluntary isolation in Amazonian Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Bolivia. These people avoid all contact with strangers because they prefer the isolation they have maintained for centuries. But these tribes -- the Tagaeri, Huaorani, Taromenane, Corubo, Amamhuaca, Mascho, among others – are condemned to gradual extinction.  Their numbers are rapidly dwindling:
The Coruba speakers number only 40;
Mascho speakers number between 20-100.
Amamhuaca language, it is thought, is spoken only by 720 people: 500 in Peru and 220 in Brazil. 
The challenge facing the region's impoverished governments is to balance land development and protect the riches of the Amazonian belt and the fragile indigenous groups.  Brazil was among the first to adopt a policy of creating enforced territorial reserves for people living in voluntary isolation.  Colombia, Ecuador and Peru are also looking at similar action.

Inuit say 'Yes' to Labrador land-claim deal
NEWFOUNDLAND--Inuit in northern Labrador have voted to accept a historic land-claim deal that will give them ownership of more than 15,000 square kilometres of land. The deal also gives them management rights over resources in another 56,000 square kilometres and a share of any future development. The agreement also gives the Inuit the power to make their own laws and to control their education system and their social services. The new nation, Nunatsiavut, will be located in Hopedale, Labrador, with the administration in Nain. It will have 16 members, including some who live outside the region. Community governments will be established in Nain, Makkovik, Hopedale, Postville and Rigolet.

Former Cherokee Chief Still Making a Difference
Having just returned from South Africa, Wilma Mankiller is now planning to release her third book about powerful native women.  Mankiller, the first female elected principal chief of an American Indian tribe, led the Cherokee Nation from 1985 to 1995. Under her reign, she started gaming, built a Job Corps Center for Cherokee teens to learn skills, and taught her people to care, says those who know her. But Wilma says she's just a regular woman.  "Every single person has leadership ability," she says.  "Some step up and take them.  Some don't.  My answer was to step up and lead."
The Associated Press

Archaeologist searches for artifacts from the Hopewell people
Kansas--The Hopewell culture is best known for earth mounds built along the Ohio River from 50 B.C. to 500 A.D. Now their passage through eastern Kansas is being researched. Archaeologist Jim Dougherty is studying artifacts to learn how far into Kansas the Hopewell People lived. "We know they had villages in northeast and southeast Kansas, but I am intrigued with the question of the extent to which they may have traveled west along the Arkansas River drainage system. We know they obtained meteorites from southwestern Kansas and obsidian (volcanic glass), bear teeth, and bighorn sheep horns from the Rocky Mountains. We do not know, however, what routes they took and where they camped."  Dougherty hopes that Kansas farmers, ranchers and amateur archaeologists will help by contacting him if they find artifacts.

City Is Losing a Part of Its Soul in Playa Vista
CALIFORNIA: Over the last few months, one of the largest American Indian burial grounds ever found in the nation has been rising out of the earth in West Los Angeles. Rib cages and skulls, basketry remnants and personal goods are sifted from the dirt. Some remains are 4,000 years old; some date from the days of the Spanish missions. Each is laid in a cardboard banker's box to be reinterred someplace else. It is all being done as competently, rapidly, legally and as quietly as possible. The burial site is being opened for the 13,000 people who will populate the master-planned Playa Vista community.,1,2153978,print.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions

Despite Traditions and Bloodlines, Government Says Some Tribes Don't Exist
REDDING, Calif. Once, there were 14,000 Wintu; today, just 125 remain. Their ancestors lived along the McCloud River in Northern California where Wintus still gather to pray and visit their sacred sites. As did their ancestors, today's Wintu believe it's their purpose to protect the McCloud.  But despite their history and traditions, the federal government says the Wintu tribe does not exist. This makes the tribe ineligible for land, grants, or other benefits. "We're a traditional, historic tribe.  We still live and follow our traditions and culture that has been handed down generation by generation," said Caleen Sisk-Franco, Wintu spiritual leader.  '"We're put here to protect the sacred places, for there to be snow on the mountain, fish in the river. But [the government] still can't see us." 
The Associated Press

Program focuses Native Americans
New Jersey--The impact of the Lenape Indians' culture has influenced New Jersey society more than most historians realize, says Dr. Jean R. Soderlund.  Despite many tribes moving west, "we seem to have forgotten that people stayed in the East as well," she said. "They had an impact on American culture as it developed, not just on the frontier." Soderlund points to the civilizations developed by Native Americans, which ranged from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast. It was based on the growing of corn, beans and squash and hunting and fishing, but they also engaged in trade.  "They valued their freedom. They were not interested in being subservient to a king," she said.  While children learn about Native Americans in school, the culture seems to have vanished from the curriculum of colleges and universities, she said.

Navajo Code Alive in Iraq
Since the age of 12, Cpl. Kayelee Yazzie knew she wanted to be a communicator in the Marine Corps.  Yazzie, a Navajo, comes from a long line of military family members. Her father was an airman in Vietnam; her grandfather served with the Army in Germany during World War II; and his stepbrother was a Marine codetalker in Japan during the same war.  Yazzie has now learned the Navajo code talker secret code and says it wasn't difficult because '''s just the Navajo language.  Code talkers are highly respected people in my tribe,'' the 20 year old said.  ''I knew I wanted to follow in their footsteps and carry on their legacy. The code talkers helped the U.S. beat the Japanese because no one could crack the code.''  In May 2001, Kayelee joined the Marines to become a communicator.  She is currently being deployed to Iraq for the second time.

In the Language of Our Ancestors
Across Indian Country, many efforts to revive and revitalize Native American languages are under way.  Of the hundreds of languages existing here before European invasion, it's estimated 66% may have disappeared.  Of those that remain, many could die along with the elders, the dwindling brain trust of tribal language. In Arlee, Montana, a former bowling alley is home to Nkwusm, a tribal-run language school for preschoolers.  The adults are fluent in Salish and committed to keeping the language alive, even if it means coming out of retirement. "The power and wisdom of language is what has kept our people together so that we can do meaningful things," said elder Pat Pierre. "If I can teach the little ones the language, then we keep our identity."  In Nkwusm, the Salish are using a "language nest" --a language immersion program for their youngest tribal members. Twenty years ago, Maoris in New Zealand saved their language with language nests. Hawaiians soon adopted the Maori model and, a similar program has been established on the Blackfeet Reservation in Northwest Montana. Language nests are seen by many as a key to reviving tribal languages. Last year Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye proposed an amendment to the Native American Languages Act of 1990. If passed, it would provide federal government support for Native American survival schools, including language nests.

Linking families, language and heritage
CALIFORNIA: Seventy-year-old Marie Wilcox has a simple dream, a dream in which she hears the language spoken by her Wukchummi grandparents once again. "It is something I feel in my heart, I want to hear again," Wilcox said. Her dream is now becoming a reality at the Owens Valley Career Development Center in Vistula. The center's mission is to provide Native American Indians with cultural education, programs and opportunities. Wilcox will teach families that go to the center the Wukchummi her grandparents taught her. "[Learning the language] will help bring families together," Wilcox said. "And they will be proud of their heritage."

Beef up support of Inuit culture, says NTI
Nunavut Tunngavik, a land claims organization, has released its report on the state of Inuit culture and society. The report moves through what it calls 10 priority areas for Nunavut Tunngavik and Nunavummiut. Among the recommendations:
Create all signs and advertising in Inuktitut and English, and French;
The federal government must provide money to build social housing for Inuit; 
The federal government must commit $3,500,000  to teach all K-12 classes in the Inuktitut language.

shaman photo copyright:

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